Pacific Northwest Country

To the Statue of Liberty and Alberto Rios’ “The Border”

My country was wild and Native, speaking Lushootseed and Chinook as the Constitution was written.
My country was Spanish explored country, until the British swooped in at Nootka and laid claim country.
My country was a settler’s race, pushing, pushing, pushing to the beavers and the rivers and the cash.

My country was islands vied over as furs gave way to farm country, a loose pig starting a war country.
My country was the Duwanmish chased from their homeland, and still without their treaty rights honored country.
My country was a city birthed by seamstresses, the West civilized by unmentioned sex work country.

My country was endless timber paying for free education, turned new growth and slow profits country.
My country was gold rush gateway country, gambling born on the backs of lumberjacks made rich country.
My country was red lines, black neighborhoods bulldozed to make room for white suburb fed freeways country.
My country was Japanese internment camps; shopping malls built on now twice stolen land country.

My country were the mudflats before mountain country, green and wet, hand filled by cliffs made gentle country.
My country is Smith Tower, tallest building outside New York in 1914; ambitious country.
My country is windward mountain country, green and foggy. Full of software and steel and trees country.
My Country is new immigrants and old stories repeated ‘til made new; this is Pacific Northwest Country.

-Lylium Walsh

Originally written and submitted to the American Jewish Historical Society’s 2020 Emma Lazarus poetry contest